Christie: Shutdown is both parties' fault

"The president saw this train coming for a long time," said Christie. All of a sudden [Friday] is the first day he has anyone over to the White House? Same thing with the speaker, same thing with the majority."
"The president saw this train coming for a long time," said Christie. All of a sudden [Friday] is the first day he has anyone over to the White House? Same thing with the speaker, same thing with the majority." (APRIL SAUL / Staff Photographer)
Posted: October 13, 2013

Gov. Christie on Friday blamed Republicans and Democrats for the federal government shutdown, saying "it's irresponsible of both sides to have allowed this to get where it's gotten."

Asked during a meeting with the Inquirer Editorial Board what he would do if he were a U.S. senator right now, the Republican governor said: "If I was in the Senate right now, I'd kill myself."

"This is why I've never had any interest in being in a legislative body," Christie said. In the 1990s Christie was a county freeholder, a legislative position, and he also ran for the Assembly.

The governor, who met with Republican senators Wednesday, said the situation in Washington was evidence of a failure in leadership - and a failure to achieve compromise.

"The president saw this train coming for a long time. All of a sudden [Friday] is the first day he has anyone over to the White House? Same thing with the speaker, same thing with the [House] majority. They saw this train coming for a long time and did nothing to stop it," Christie said.

While on Capitol Hill, Christie met with Sen. Mitch McConnell, the minority leader from Kentucky, and Sen. Jeffrey S. Chiesa, the Christie appointee who will serve until the special New Jersey Senate election next week.

After he left that meeting, Christie was coy, telling reporters he was there only to visit Chiesa, who "introduced me to some of the new friends he's made over the last 41/2 months."

But on Friday he relayed what he said when he met with the senators: "Get the government reopened, stop monkeying around, and get back to work. . . . I'm out there in the field. People have no patience for this stuff.'"

He told The Inquirer that the shutdown would not hurt Republicans in the long term, though "certainly right now the Republican Party is taking the brunt of the blame."

Does the GOP deserve the brunt of that blame? Christie refused to say. "I'm not a pundit; I'm not going to get into all that," he said.

Christie arrived in Philadelphia after a campaign stop in Palmyra, where he picked up two more endorsements from elected Democrats, Mayor Karen Scheffler and Council President David Dorworth. He used the endorsement event, at a pizzeria, to tout his bipartisan inclinations.

"With what we see going on in Washington, D.C., right now, they could use a dose of some New Jersey common sense," he said to cheers. "Notice I said New Jersey common sense, not Republican common sense or Democrat common sense."

He then talked about his visit to Washington - "an alternate universe": "I have to tell you, I was so thrilled to get out of there alive . . . and seemingly not infected by the awful partisanship that is going on down there now."

Christie's gubernatorial opponent, State Sen. Barbara Buono (D., Middlesex), said Friday that Christie should take responsibility for the shutdown because he "put in office the architects of this shutdown" by campaigning and fund-raising for "that crazy element in Washington, the tea party."

"Chris Christie needs to disavow them, to repudiate that party, and if he doesn't, he's no better than that crazy wing of the Republican Party that's driving America off the cliff," Buono said in an interview with WWDB Radio in Philadelphia.

Christie's interview with the Editorial Board covered several other topics, including his presidential aspirations.

Christie would not guarantee that he won't run for president in the middle of a second term. "What I've been asked to do is preclude myself from having other plans, and I'm not going to do that three or four years in advance," he said.

The governor also was asked to respond to a lengthy New York Times story Friday that described a political corruption investigation in Hunterdon County in which Christie's former attorney general, Paula Dow, took the unusual step of killing a grand jury indictment. She also took over the Hunterdon County Prosecutor's Office, and three prosecutors - including the one who led the case - lost their jobs.

The article said that former Hunterdon Sheriff Deborah Trout, the target of the indictment, had political ties to the Christie administration and suggested that may have been the reason she avoided prosecution.

Christie did not speak to the Times for the article, but on Friday he said he had met Trout only once or twice, would not recognize her if he saw her, and knew nothing about the investigation beyond what he read in the papers.

"It was one innuendo based on another to somehow get to me," he said.

Christie said that he does not get involved in criminal investigations and is not notified by the attorney general about ongoing probes.

Asked if anything in the story indicated overreach or over-aggressiveness by Dow or the prosecutors, Christie said no.

609-217-8355 @mattkatz00

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